Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders
People with Asperger’s Syndrome (also referred to as Asperger’s Disorder) don’t have the same communications challenges as others on the autism spectrum. For example, there is no significant delay in a child’s use of language and words.
“What distinguishes Asperger’s Disorder from autism is the severity of the [social and behavioral] symptoms and the absence of language delays,” notes the Autism Society of America. “Children with autism are frequently seen as aloof and uninterested in others. This is not the case with Asperger’s Disorder. Individuals with Asperger’s Disorder usually want to fit in and have interaction with others; they simply don’t know how to do it.”
People with Asperger’s also find it difficult to pick up on the use of nuance in language, such as humor and sarcasm, and have trouble picking up social cues, like when a classmate grows tired of hearing about the same subject repeatedly.
Signs doctors look for:
1. Impaired social interaction. For Asperger’s, this means a person could have difficulty in nonverbal behaviors, such as looking someone else in the eye, or using facial expressions, body movements, and gestures to interact with others.
- a failure to develop peer relationships
- a lack of spontaneous efforts to share enjoyment and interests with other people, such as bringing and pointing out interesting objects to others
- a lack of social or emotional reciprocity
2. Restricted, repetitive behaviors and interests. An example of this is when a child demonstrates a preoccupation with one or a few items of interest. (The Autism Society notes that people with Asperger’s can have obsessive interests with a particular subject and collect facts about it, or collect categories of objects, such as bottle caps.)
- when a person adheres to specific routines and rituals that have no practical function
- stereotyped and repetitive movements, such as flapping one’s hands or fingers, or other body movements
- persistent preoccupation with parts of objects, such as certain parts of a toy
3. Problems with social, occupational, and other important areas of functioning. Children who are diagnosed with Asperger’s may appear physically clumsy, in addition to the challenges they have in picking up on social cues. (Read more about Asperger’s here.)
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